A memo written by former FBI Director James Comey reportedly says that President Donald Trump asked Comey on Feb. 14 to drop an investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael T. Flynn.
Comey's memo quotes the president as saying: "I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go,” reports The New York Times.
Two unidentified sources told the newspaper that the meeting between Trump and Comey took place one day after Flynn resigned on Feb. 13.
Comey was reportedly creating a paper trail of what he believed were Trump's improper attempts to influence an FBI investigation.
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Comey shared the memo with senior officials at the FBI and some close associates. One of those close associates read part of the memo to The New York Times; the newspaper has not viewed the memo.
The White House denied Comey's version of events in a statement:
While the president has repeatedly expressed his view that General Flynn is a decent man who served and protected our country, the president has never asked Mr. Comey or anyone else to end any investigation, including any investigation involving General Flynn.
The president has the utmost respect for our law enforcement agencies, and all investigations. This is not a truthful or accurate portrayal of the conversation between the president and Mr. Comey.
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An unidentified source close to Comey, who has a copy of the memo, told CNN host Jake Tapper on May 16 that Comey was in an Oval Office briefing with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Feb. 14.
After the briefing was over, the president reportedly asked Pence and Sessions to leave the room and made his request to Comey.
According to Tapper's source, Comey wants to testify publicly and hopes there are tapes of his conversations with Trump, which Trump alluded to on May 12 on Twitter: "James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!"
Comey's associates told the Washington Post that Comey's notes recalled Trump saying that he wanted journalists jailed for leaks, and was upset by what he believed to be the FBI's failure to stop leaks about his conversations with foreign leaders -- which could have been leaked by the foreign leaders themselves.
According to Comey's associates, the details of the notes written by Comey have been shared with a very small group of people at the Justice Department and the FBI.
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin told CNN host Wolf Blitzer on May 16 that the Comey memo, if true, shows obstruction of justice by the president:
Three words: Obstruction of justice. Telling the FBI director to close down an investigation of your senior campaign adviser [Flynn] for his activities during your campaign for president, if that's true, that is obstruction of justice.
Why do you think Director Comey wrote a memo to the file about it? Because he was so appalled that a president of the United States would behave in this way.
"Close it down" is an instruction to stop investigating President Trump's campaign. Richard Nixon was impeached in 1974 for telling the FBI to stop an investigation of his campaign. That's what Watergate was.